You’ve filed your Request for Hearing and now you’re playing the waiting game, wondering what to expect next in your Social Security disability claim. Whether you’re in Maine, Massachusetts or New Hampshire, the wait can be a long one. In part 1 of this blog entry we’ll fill you in as to what you can expect. In part 2, we’ll make sure you understand soup to nuts what to expect on the day of your hearing.
First and foremost, it’s important to understand that whether you request a hearing following an initial denial letter out of New Hampshire, or a reconsideration denial out of Maine or Massachusetts, the hearing itself will not take place soon. The likely wait for a hearing is in the neighborhood of what can be anywhere from 8 to 12 months with the Massachusetts and New Hampshire hearing offices (although some hearings out of the Portland, Maine hearing office are still taking up to 14 months). Soon after you file your request for hearing (within ordinarily 2-4 weeks of filing your request for hearing) , you will receive a letter from Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) acknowledging the hearing office’s receipt of your file.
The initial letter from the hearing office will inform you that you will be notified as to the time and place of your hearing at least 75 days in advance of the hearing. Likewise, the letter will explain to you that in some circumstances your case can be heard more quickly and efficiently by way of videoteleconference or what is termed a VTC hearing. Should you agree to proceed by way of VTC, this will mean that your case will not be heard in person before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Instead, you will appear in front of a judge by way of a video camera, much in the same way that those charged with a crime and held in jail, might make a preliminary appearance before a judge for purposes of bail. While this process may be an expeditious one for the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) purpose, as they can assign and schedule cases before judges that are in other parts of the country that might not be as busy and can hear the case more quickly, this process is quite impersonal as you can well imagine. This is not to mention the fact that if your attorney is being asked to prepare before a judge with whom he has no familiarity, this may put your attorney and you at a disadvantage. You will be provided with only twenty (20) days to Object to Proceeding by way of VTC and so you do not want to miss this deadline. Our office always objects. Continue reading